‘A huge boost, and for free,’ Royals look at adding talent from within following trade deadline

WatchWhile the Royals stayed pat with the group they have, it's a confident team heading towards the regular-season finish line.

The WHL’s trade deadline came and went on Jan. 17, with some of the league’s top teams bolstering their line-ups.

But some stayed quiet, including the Victoria Royals. Their Head and General Manager says the feeling for some teams was to take a conservative approach due to a number of factors, including uncertainty around the league.

“There were so many stoppages and starts, it’s just been really tough to predict, you know, some of the ebbs and flows of the season, so that created some volatility I would say in the market, generally,” said Dan Price.

While Price and his staff considered potential trades, one big variable is the fact the Royals have been a competitive team, playing mostly short-handed all year.

“The greatest roster strength that we’ve had has been 75 per cent, and at many times closer to 55 per cent,” Price said.

“So being able to add, conceptually almost by way of trade, those players coming off of the injured reserve, and out of COVID-protocol and all those kinds of things, that actually gives us a huge boost, and for free.

Some key players the Royals have welcomed back or will be soon, include forwards Keanu Derungs, Marcus Almquist, and Captain Tarun Fizer, with veteran defenceman Anson McMaster not far from returning, too.

And some of the deals prior to Monday’s deadline came with a big price tag for teams loading up for a playoff run, and while the Royals were thinking of this season, they had to consider the future, too.

As we know in junior hockey, there are restrictions on the 20-year-olds and you’re always progression planning for your 19-year-olds as well, and then you’re managing your draft inventory for future years, so a lot of variables that way,” said Price.

While the Royals stayed pat with the group they have, it’s a confident team heading towards the regular-season finish line.

“They really believe in themselves, as they should, and regardless of the line-up is on any given night or who the opponent is, there’s a team that really believes it can win the game and will win the game, even though some nights might be more challenging than others,” added Price.

“With that extra influx of people coming in, that extra energy and depth, I would say there’s an even greater sense of eagerness and anticipation and excitement and confidence.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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